Porter Jones is the svelte and suave chief of staff for Daylesford’s Mayor William Smith. Porter has ambitions to replace the mayor, once he decides not to run for re-election, but he’s always been a staunch supporter of his boss. Porter’s programs and policies have benefited the mayor, but Porter only sees it as good strategy. One thing that Porter isn’t open about is his sex life, which is both active and kinky. He keeps all his many and varied exploits on the down-low so he isn’t at risk of a scandal—which is why he’s so upset when Mayor Smith, a faithful and loving husband, gets embroiled in a sex scandal of his own.
It’s a clear-cut invasion of privacy, and Porter is on the case trying to get the young reporter, Declan Davies, to retract—or give up his sources. It’s a shame he finds the (literally) ill-suited, awkward man so intriguing. Declan is a cub reporter, and he wants to be one of the big investigative journalists at the Times, but he’s going about it all wrong. Plus, the “scandal” he’s reporting is truly not one. His source is dubious at best, and the images were hacked illegally. Still, Declan knows that the mayor isn’t the totally innocent man he’s been portrayed to the public.
Porter is another matter altogether. He is a white knight, though Declan does get glimpses of Porter’s sexual side while working together on a puff piece that’s supposed to take the heat of the mayor. Instead, this assignment puts Declan and Porter in the exact proximity for attraction to grow. Declan has a lot of body image issues, thanks to a spine deformity, and Porter finds Declan’s physical challenges to be exquisite. He’s witnessed his best friends all find boys to love and cherish, and Porter has a sense that he could spend some serious time in a power exchange relationship with Declan. Their needs in the bedroom extend from their desires outside of it, with Declan finally accepting himself for who he is. However, their relationship could be a problem, because the wider world of Daylesford freaked out about a bit of peen on the Times’ front page. What would people say if they knew Porter is a full-on Dom, or Declan a sub? Or, if they got wind of the small amount of kink the mayor engages in with his wife? Well, these are things Porter will have to deal with if Declan publishes all the dirt his source has dug up lately.
Scandal is the fourth book in the 99 Daddies series, featuring a new couple finding love and recurring characters lending support. This was an interesting read, not really because of the “scandals,” but because of the intellectual and emotional situations the characters are experiencing. There are body issues, sex-shaming issues, and horrible parent issues they each need to address and resolve, if possible. And these are mostly kept right between Porter and Declan, building their bonds as partners. Complicating matters are some hack-job operations in play, and while Declan’s committed to the “truth,” he’s sensitive enough to recognize that some personal facts about people’s private lives really don’t need to be broadcast. Unfortunately, he’s caught up in the publishing machine by that point, and his reports unwittingly harm the fledgling relationship he and Porter have begun. It takes a lot of whiskey and some advice from three seriously content daddies (Porter’s best pals: Sterling, Steel, and Hudson) to knock some sense into a spiraling Porter—at least until Declan’s journalism skills rescue them both from a lonely fate.
It’s nice to see Porter in his truest experience. He’s generally come of as a bit arrogant and a braggart as a supporting character in the previous stories, but he was really human throughout his story, making clear why he’s so well-respected in his city. I enjoyed how honest and candid he was with Declan, though I felt it a bit sketchy that he’s so open with a reporter who has already shown little compunction toward propriety. I get that Declan had a specific ax to grind with the mayor, but this seemed foolhardy on Porter’s part. Declan’s a messy guy; he wants so much to be esteemed, yet he goes about it so ham-handedly, not to mention unethically. I’m not sure if this comes from his lack of a father figure, or his insecurity from body issues. In any case, I didn’t find him sympathetic or likeable for the first half of the book. It’s only once he starts to open up and be honest with Porter that I started to get interested in him, at all. His second bombshell about the mayor was a low blow, and it nearly ends things with Porter. Again, Declan’s lack of discretion was a big issue for me as a reader. His attempts at being a big reporter amount to gossip column fodder—which he loathes. His ambition is blind, but not dumb, and his amends to Porter come at a high price. There is a happy ending here, especially once Declan starts to embrace his truth and be the kind of man that anyone could admire, not just Porter. I think fans of the series will enjoy this one, but I would not have liked it as much if I had read this book first.